Cooking and eating rattlesnake may not be for everyone, but as outdoorsmen and women know, wild game meat is some of the best tasting and nutritious protein that there is. Eating reptile might not be your idea of a tasty treat, but with a recipe like Texas rattlesnake chili, you may need to rethink that. Like with most wild game meats, it's all in the preparation. Care for it and cook it properly, and you can turn almost anything into a delicious meal. We'll cover where to get your hands on some rattlesnake, how to clean and butcher your own, and how to cook this interesting and delicious meat. Chili is not the only way to cook up some rattler, but it is a fun and easy way to start.
Safely Acquiring a Rattlesnake
There are many sources of exotic wild game meats that carry everything from ostrich and bison to alligator and elk. Rattlesnake may be a little tougher to find, but it can be done. These speciality meats aren't cheap: In some cases, a package of rattlesnake can run you anywhere from $70 to $80 per pound.
It comes in a variety of formats, too. You can buy smoked rattlesnake, canned rattlesnake, and rattlesnake sausage, or just a package of raw rattlesnake meat for your own cooking needs.
The famous Rattlesnake Roundup is held in the early part of each year in Sweetwater, Texas for those who would really like to learn something about this amazing reptile. In fact, the roundup features an all-star cookout each year featuring rattlesnake in a prominent ingredient role.
Cleaning a Rattlesnake
If you do happen to get your hands on a rattler, what's next? It is important to know that if you dispatch a snake yourself, the head of the rattlesnake should be removed immediately and discarded since the venom glands can still be dangerous.
The video above shares some great information on how to cut open, skin, and then remove the guts from a fairly large snake with ease. As with some game animals such as fish, having the carcass frozen and then thawed just a little seems to be the best way to handle it.
Once you've cut it down the middle, from the head towards the tail, with some good scissors or shears, it's a simple matter of peeling the skin away from the flesh.
As you can see in the video, your hands are the best tools for good portions of this process. You'll then start at the esophagus and peel the guts out of the snake from head to tail again, taking with it the entire entrails.
The most common method to debone the meat is to place it into a pot and add enough water to cover it, then add one quarter cup of lemon juice. Boil the meat for about an hour, and then you should be able to more easily separate the meat from the bones.
What Does Rattlesnake Taste Like?
If you ask three different people you will get three different answers to the age old question: What does rattlesnake meat taste like? First off, it does not taste very much like chicken, but its flesh is white and tender. Many folks say that it tastes similar to alligator, turtle, or frog legs, which are of course all either reptiles or amphibians.
Many report a rubbery consistency, and a slightly gamey or earthy flavor. Ultimately, you'll need to make up your own mind in terms of how it tastes. Which brings us to the recipe for Texas Rattlesnake Chili.
Texas Rattlesnake Chili Ingredients:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup cubed rattlesnake meat
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 3 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes undrained
- 2/3 cup tomato paste
- 2 cups water
Rattlesnake Chili Directions:
1. Using a five quart pan, heat the oil and cook the onion, green pepper, and garlic until it is tender, then add the meat and cook until done, about 8 minutes.
2. Stir in all the seasonings, tomatoes, and tomato paste.
3. Heat everything to boiling, reduce heat, and simmer for about two hours or until desired.
4. Before serving, add water and then return the chili to boiling for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
This may be similar to other good chili recipes you've made, but the addition of rattlesnake might catch some people by surprise! If you've never had a chance to try some cooked rattler, then you're in for a treat with this preparation. Cooking this chili low and slow will ensure the rattlesnake is cooked through, and avoid drying it out at the same time.
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